I don’t generally like horror and will often spoil the hell out of horror movies before seeing them so I don’t get too wrapped up in the scares and can focus more on what’s actually happening.
But man, just judging from this first episode, The Haunting of Hill House is gonna be really freakin’ scary.
So, the story flashes back and forth between the present the childhood experience of the Crain siblings. Their parents, Olivia and Hugh, were trying to flip some old mansion that, it turned out, was haunted, particularly by the Bent-Neck Lady. This first episode, though introducing all the Crains, focuses mostly on oldest brother Steven, a famous author who ran into problems with his family when his first book was about Hill House and their experiences there and with his wife for other unknown reasons.
Steven claims he’s never seen a ghost. He makes a career writing about “true” supernatural occurrences but says he’s never seen anything himself.
It looks like he’s the only member of the Crain family to not see something in that house, particularly when one night, his father scooped him up and hustled him out to the car, telling him not to open his eyes so he won’t see something horrible. All the other kids are outside in the car already, and Hugh drives off without his wife Olivia. She’s seen dancing a waltz alone through the house.
We find out later she committed suicide, Hugh won’t sell the house, and he insists the caretaker couple the Dudleys continue to take care of the place. Hugh’s lawyer is a bit baffled by all this.
But what about the rest of the kids? How did they turn out? Did the House affect them?
It sure looks like it. Oldest sister Shirley is a funeral director. Middle sister Theodora wears gloves at all times, has empty one-night stands with other women (because of course the gay character is a woman), and seems emotionally distant. Youngest brother Luke, one of twins, has a drug problem. As for the other twin, youngest sister Nell, well…
She’s trying to call another member of the family the entire night because the ghost that haunted her the most in Hill House, the Bent-Neck Lady, is back. She does get through to Hugh who asks her to stay put until he gets to her. Instead, she goes back to Hill House.
And all of her siblings wake up in their respective beds suddenly at around 3AM.
But none of them really get back to Nell. She’s been a bit disturbed for years. Steven thinks he might when he gets home, after seeing Luke trying to rob him, and finds Nell inside his apartment. Nell’s not talking, not even when Steven asks her why she didn’t stop Luke from stealing anything.
And then Hugh calls. He’s at Hill House. Nell seems to have killed herself there.
The Nell in Steven’s apartment is a ghost.
And as Steven watches in horror, Nell’s face turns gray and she opens her mouth for a silent scream…
This really is horror done right.